Buddhist Philosophy

Balancing Dharma and Life Through Kindness

Balancing Dharma and life can challenge us, and it may sometimes be difficult to do well. Phakchok Rinpoche understands that many of us have a spiritual practice but we also have life responsibilities. Rinpoche reminds us that often we forget about balancing our responsibilities. He asks us to learn how to balance our relationships with family and friends and our spiritual path.

Balance and Kindness

Kindness to the family is very important on our path. We strive to maintain balance. When we think of kindness, sometimes we make a mistake and ignore or forget our own families. But if you think about it, does that make sense? What does our spiritual practice teach? How can we say we want to be kind to and save all sentient beings if we are not kind to our own families? We are taught to be kind and caring, right? But sometimes we forget and we are unkind to those who are close to us. That shows very clearly that we are not practicing the teachings we are learning. Our families are included in “all sentient beings” that we vow to help.

Instead, if we remember to balance and keep the care and love for our families, friends, and all sentient beings, then we will change. Rinpoche says that he has seen students truly transform. And when they transform, their family members notice, appreciate, and often change as well. We need to remind ourselves, however, because we can sometimes forget this balance. Do we consider the needs of our partner or companion, our entire families, and our friends?  We may think we know this, but Rinpoche says we sometimes justify ignoring our close ones. He reminds us that monks have big roles in caring for their families. They are trained to be spiritual practitioners, but sometimes they need to really help their families.

Caring for the Quiet Ones

Rinpoche asks us not to forget, especially those who are very quiet. It is often easy to forget those family members who don’t ask for things. We should feel caring and we should remember to give people what they need, not just what we want or like ourselves. It is more compassionate to give what the person really needs or wants.

Spiritual practice means that we don’t forget. If we practice this way, Rinpoche says we can show what kind of a practitioner we really are. Are we roses or are we thorns? It is much easier to observe what we really are when we see how we behave in society!



1 responses on "Balancing Dharma and Life Through Kindness"

  1. Great reminder, Good Stuff, Thank you Rinpoche!

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Suggested Reading

Dudjom Rinpoche, The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, trans. and ed. by Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1991), vol. 1, pages 468–474.

Ngawang Zangpo, Guru Rinpoche: His Life and Times, Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2002.

Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, trans. Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005), pages 41–48.

Padmasambhava, Legend of the Great Stupa, Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1973

Padmasambhava & Jamgön Kongtrul, The Light of Wisdom, trans. by Erik Pema Kunsang (Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1986-1999), pages 43-47 & Appendix 5.

Taranatha, The Life of Padmasambhava, Shang Shung Edizioni, 2005

Tulku Thondup, Masters of Meditation and Miracles, Shambhala, 1996.

Yeshe Tsogyal, Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava, translated by Kenneth Douglas and Gwendolyn Bays (Emeryville: Dharma Publishing, 1978, republished 2008).

Yeshe Tsogyal, Lotus Born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2004.

‘The Life of Guru Padmasambhava’ in A Great Treasure of Blessings, The Tertön Sogyal Trust, 2004.